Note: This story appears in the Sunday, June 23 newspaper on Page A1.
When it rains, it pours — especially in Ohio this month.
Ryan Fogt, the director of Ohio University’s Scalia Lab for Atmospheric Analysis, said Athens has received 3 inches of precipitation in the last week and over 23 inches in the last year, as of Friday. Both totals are above average, though not record setting.
While it feels like this torrential downpour of a summer will never come to an end, Athens has actually had less rain than in other Ohio cities.
Areas like Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus have received upwards of 34 inches of rain in the past year, with more to come.
“It just seems really wet because we’ve had several days of nonstop cloudy conditions and chances for rain (in Athens),” Fogt said.
The cause of this deluge of rain is due to weak weather patterns in the jet stream and the current “El Nino” system we are experiencing. According to Fogt, this is causing weather systems to stay parked over the area and occasionally dump large amounts of rain.
Fogt also noted that the precipitation totals aren’t extremely out of the ordinary compared to recent years. In fact, Athens had a wetter 2018 up to this point than 2019, he said.
The last month of rain is also causing concerns about flooding, infrastructure failure and farming for the year across the state. On Wednesday, a sinkhole opened up on Pancake Road in York Twp.
The York Twp. Volunteer Fire Department posted photos on Facebook and told residents that the road would be closed for 30 days. The department also warned people to stay away from the area and not attempt to drive around the sinkhole.
Fogt said problems like this can arise because of soils that let the water penetrate down to the bedrock and open up sinkholes. Fogt said local researchers are keeping a close eye on the Hocking River but are not expecting any flooding.
“The Hocking River hasn’t reached flood stage and it’s not forecasted to do so,” Fogt said. “There will be some rising of it continuously because the river basins are getting higher and it’s a downstream effect.”
The Hocking River and its tributaries would be at risk of flooding if areas like Cincinnati, Portsmouth and Pomeroy also experience it along the Ohio River.
The other concern that Ohioans face due to the weather is whether or not the flooding will delay farmers from planting crops like corn.
“Some areas have had significant delays in planting and we’re getting close to the cutoff now for corn to be planted,” Fogt said.
Crops that have already been planted are also at risk because flooding can destroy fields. Both concerns are primarily for areas north and west of Athens.
To find out more about local weather, Scalia Lab keeps its website updated with forecasts and observations and updates its social media pages with breaking weather news.